Archive for July, 2009


Tisha B’Av

Tisha B’Av is a day set aside to remember the tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people. There are many. Our Teachers tell us that the sin of the spies in the wilderness took place on this date. Also, the fall of Bara Kochba and the decree of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain to expel the Jews took place on this date. Specifically the day is a remembrance of the destruction of the First and Second Temples. This includes, in both cases, the destruction of Jerusalem and a loss of sovereignty.  Most observances of this nature are designed to remember the fallen. For example, Yom HaShoah is a day set aside to remember the victims of the Holocaust.  In the United States, there are observances to remember the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and the Terrorist attack on 9/11 2001.  On each of these occasions, there is a ceremony or perhaps a moment of silence to remember the victims.


Tisha B’Av is different. The observance is not really designed to remember the fallen but rather to remember collectively the covenant relationship between God and the Jewish people. Perhaps if the events took place in closer proximity to our day, there might be a focus on the victims. Be that as it may, the motif of the service is the remembrance of the covenant. The Book of Lamentations is read and is followed by a series of paragraphs called “kinot” “dirges”.  These poems reflect the sadness of the tragedies and often relate the tragedies to rebellion of the people. However, some of the Kinot reflect the hope of redemption.  It is important for us all to remember Tisha B’Av because we stand with our people of every generation who have suffered at the hands of those who would seek to destroy us.  Just as we stood at Sinai we were there at every juncture of Jewish history. We collectively identify with the tragedies, the rebellions and the victories. On Tisha B’Av we weep with our people over the tragedies of history.


  This week’s Haftorah is from Isaiah chapter 40 which begins Comfort ye my people.  This passage begins a prolonged section in Isaiah that promises redemption; that promises the restoration of Israel, land and blessing. The  prophets spoke of a day of darkness that would be followed by a day of victory. As Messianic Jews we share in that hope. God has given us the assurance of that day when he sent the Messiah. His sufferings epitomize the history of the Jewish people. His resurrection is the hope of Israel. When we embrace Yeshua, we experience aspects of the resurrection life. We are sad over the travail of our people but we rejoice that there will be the day when the Temple will be rebuilt again and the Messiah will sit on his throne in Jerusalem, the nations will come to Jerusalem and there will be peace.  


   Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Can a land be born in one day? Can a nation be brought forth all at once? As soon as Zion travailed, she also brought forth her sons.  9 “Shall I bring to the point of birth and not give delivery?” says the LORD. “Or shall I who gives delivery shut the womb?” says your God.  10 “Be joyful with Jerusalem and rejoice for her, all you who love her; Be exceedingly glad with her, all you who mourn over her,    Isaiah 66:8-10


the many faces of the Messianic Jewish Movement

Being the President of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations has its perks. Last week I had the privilege of attending Messiah ’09  the national conferenc of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America. I appreciated the hospitality that was shown to me as well as the great music, interesting seminars and the opportunity to renew old acquaintences, see friends and meet new friends.  Frank Lowenger, the President of the MJAA and I knew each others many years ago when i was a college student in Buffalo NY. it was great to see him again.

The MJAA and the UMJC are two of the leading organizations of the Messianic Jewish Movement. We are different organizations with different structures serving the Lord in different ways.  It was very encouraging to see the work that the Alliance is doing among our people in Israel and elsewhere around the world.  As I was sitting in the services I thought to myself how important it is to appreciate what we are all doing in our calling to bring restoration to our people through Yeshua the Messiah.  I was reminded of the passage in 1 Corinthians where Paul is exhorting the people to  recognize that all of God’s servants play a role in his work in this world.  He says, 




For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men? 5 What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.



Yes, it is God who causes the increase. He uses many personalities, congregations and organizations to advance the cause of Yeshua the Messiah. There are different methodologies; differing values on some concepts; different priorities.  But we share the same basic understanding of the mission of Yeshua, his nature, the meaning of his death and resurrection as well as the calling of Israel.   It behooves us to “be of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in Spirit and intent on one purpose” – advancing the cause of Yeshua.

 Let us not allow  organizational boundaries stand in the way of the work we are called to do.       A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart. 

May we appreciate the diversity of the Movement and do our best to focus on the centrality of Yeshua as we live out the calling that He has given to us.  

See you at the UMJC Conference July 22-25 in Miami.